emotional wellbeing Mandy Kloppers

No one is 100% mentally stable

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If we consider types of thoughts as indicative of mental stability, it would be safe to say that we all suffer from mental instability at times. Cognitive distortions are ways in which our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true.

Psychologists have identified types of thinking that fall under the description “cognitive distortions“.

When we engage in cognitive distortions, we are thinking irrationally. We are all guilty of using cognitive distortions to a certain degree.

List of cognitive distortions

1) Catastrophising

Exaggerating the worst possible outcome or imagining the worst happening.

2) Negative Filter

Seeing only the negatives in life situations. This shows a lack of balance in how we see things as life is not always totally negative

3) Personalising

Assuming that events that are beyond your control are your fault. For example: if you hold a party at home and then blame yourself for people not having a good time. People are responsible for their own experiences in life and you cannot expect to be responsible for other’s having a good time or not. They are adult and it is up to them to get fun out of the situation.

4) Black and White Thinking

All or nothing thinking..it is either all good or all bad without any place for grey areas. Life is very seldom black and white. For example – I must succeed at everything or else I am a failure.

5) Mindreading

Guessing what someone else is thinking. You may be able to guess but you will never really know what someone else is thinking unless you ask them.

6) Overgeneralizing

Taking one example and using it describe a larger ratio/proportion. For example. Your last romantic relationship was a disaster. Instead of seeing it as specific to you and that particular person, you generalize it to think that all future relationships will be just as bad.

7) In-Group Bias

Believing that people who are similar to you or share your values are more trustworthy or valuable than people who are dissimilar or share different cultural backgrounds.

8) “Should” statements

I should work harder or I should be more patient. Why? Where’s the rule book?


All of the above types of thinking are common. We all engage in them from time to time. There are many more types of cognitive distortions but the above ones are the most well known and documented cognitive distortions. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.

By learning to correctly identify this irrational thinking, a person can then challenge the negative thinking and refute it. By repeating this process, the negative and irrational thinking will slowly diminish overtime and be automatically replaced by more rational, balanced thinking.

Mandy X


Mandy Kloppers
Author: Mandy Kloppers

Mandy is a qualified therapist who treats depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, trauma, and many other types of mental health issues. She provides online therapy around the world for those needing support and also provides relationship counselling.